Notre Dame High School, San Francisco (closed)

Sister Aloyse of the Cross Jenkins, Sister Magdalen de Pazzi Penard and the novice, Sister Anna Raphael arrived in San Francisco on July 19, 1866 to open Notre Dame school on Dolores Street. Rev. John Prendergast, pleased that he finally had his "two sisters and a half," arranged for them to begin their work in a frame building that had been a seminary chapel. The numbers of students, boarders and Sisters grew rapidly, and addition after addition was added to the original seminary chapel. Finally, in 1898, a four-story, state-of-the-art boarding and day school, was completed.

Eight years later, Sr. Mary of the Presentation wrote about an unforgettable morning at the school: "On the never to be forgotten morning of April 18, 1906, there occurred at a quarter past five the most dreadful earthquake San Francisco has ever known.  I was in the chapel at the time and was about to unlock the tabernacle when the crashing of noise came. Candlesticks, vases, statues, and adoring angels fell around me." A day later the new school building would be dynamited to prevent the spread of fire.

There were no question in the hearts and minds of the Sisters. The school must be rebuilt. The new Notre Dame, San Francisco, opened in August, 1907, rebuilt on its 1898 foundations.

For decades afterwards, the school provided a high-quality education to thousands of young women.

As the times changed, enrollment declined and the sad decision was made to close the school in 1981.

But this is not the end of the story…

The Notre Dame spirit lives on in the Notre Dame Alumnae Association of San Francisco. The school's graduates continue to gather in friendship and continue to support the Sisters and their ministries.

And the school building, renovated, and still resting on its firm 1898 foundations, is now Notre Dame Senior Plaza. Owned by Mercy Housing Services, the Plaza offers beautiful, affordable apartments for very low-income seniors.

Contact Katie O'Leary, coordinator of the San Francisco Alumnae to find out about alumni events.


  1. I am pretty sure this high school is where my great-grandmother went to school. I have a gold cross that she received at graduation that has her name on the back and says "honors of the academy" on the front. She was born in the Mission Delores Convent in the mid-1800's. Are there any records available for pre-1900 graduates?

  2. I'm an NDHS SF Alumnae 1981. I would like to know the address to send my Cal Grant GPA Verification Form? Such as for Students Records.

  3. Would like to know whom to contact about informing me on whether there will be a 40 year reunion for the class of 1975 for Notre Dame High School Graduates. My address: 3618 Hillcrest Drive Belmont, California 94002-1306. cell phone: 408-337-7804 and please leave a message…thank you!

  4. I'm trying to locate a yearbook from the 1954 NDHS in San Francisco as a surprise for my wife (whose Mom was a Senior, but passed from cancer a few years back). I know sells a generic reprint of this particular one, but was trying to see if I can get an original. If anyone can tell me, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

  5. I was in the children's boarding school in 1957 Fall semester only; and only for 2 1/2 months. My parent's were divorcing. I was too young to really be there, I was five years old. I remember the pillow fights, dancing to the King and I record. My first grade teacher. Is there an alumni for the children's boarding school?

    1. Hello Nora, and thank you for your comment. Sister Barbara Kavanaugh serves as liaison to the NDSF Alumnae and I will forward your message to her.

  6. My great-great-aunt Elise Brown was a Mission boarder in 1898. I have a picture of the students from that year and she had written names on the back of the photo. Is it possible to post this photo on your website? The names of the students are: Dido Argall, Elise Brown, Sadie O’Connell (Mrs Putnam), Minnie Maguire, Jessie Deffebach (Mrs Sollom), May Troy, Louise Eager, Kate Boyle, May Deffebach, Clotilde Aranz (Mrs Wilson), Gertrude Knight, Elva Tompkins, May Kilsby, Baye Daniels, Luz Prem, Carmen Blanco, M Daniels, Marie Viteri, Regina Pistolesi (Mrs Harper), Mamie Glennon, Anabel Dibble, Annie Hrgan (Horgan).

    1. Thank you for your kind offer, Kathy! We would love to have a copy of that photo, both for the website and our archives!

      Rachael for the Sisters

  7. Rachael, I emailed two pictures to you, the front and back of the photo. You are welcome to use them for the website and the archives. Let me know if you didn’t get them.

  8. I would like to order a new school ring from class of 1971, does anyone know how I could get one. Please help me find one, thanks so much

    1. Hello Sandra!

      The rings were all purchased via Grant Brothers, but it seems that they are no longer in business…

      We will keep investigating for you.

      for the Sisters

  9. My mother graduated in 1950 and never had a year book because her family could never buy one. Is it possible to buy one used, or is there an online version? Thanks for any lead you can give! She has been very active as an alumna, attending the luncheon every year that she can.

    1. Hello Becky!

      I'll check with our archivist to see if there are any extra copies or if one has been scanned!

      For the Sisters

  10. Hello!
    My great grand mother and my grand mother went to school there. Would it be possible to have records of their years there? As we don’t have any picture of them.

    Thank you

    1. Hello Nick!

      Your message has been forwarded to our archivist to see what would be possible. Could you provide the names of your relatives and the years they were at the school?

      Thank you!

  11. May I add my request to access any available records of my mother’s years there. Unfortunately, I do not know the years she was there but she was born in 1900. Her name was Margaret (Or Marjorie) Cox. She always spoke fondly of her time there and was very proud to have attended Notre Dame. I do not believe she was a boarder.
    Thank you!

    1. Hello Martha! I will forward your request to our archivist. There may be a delayed response, because our time in the offices are currently limited by Covid.

      (For the Sisters)

  12. My mom went to NDHS and I have the original picture of the freshman class 1952-1953
    I would love to share a copy

    1. Thank you! Would it be digital or a hard copy? I will give you the address for either, depending on the format.

      (For the Sisters)

  13. Per the CA I Board of Education—

    San Francisco Notre Dame High School and grammar school records are held in Belmont Caa

    Need help and inquiring about:

    San Francisco Notre Dame Grammar School graduats from 1964-1965

    San Francisco Notre Dame High School Class of 1969 Graduates

    Who is handling this?

    My name is Vilma T Solorzano a graduate of both schools (12yers)!in San Francisco ND grammar and high school .

    1. Hello Vilma,

      I have forwarded your request to the Sisters' archivist for follow-up. She is not able to respond to requests as quickly as usual due to pandemic restrictions, but she will work to fulfill your request. FYI, I've removed your contact information from the information that's publicly posted, but did send your data to the archivist.


      (For the Sisters)

    1. Hello Clinnis! I don't know if the alumnae are planning a reunion or not, but will investigate and ask somone to get in touch with you.

      (for the Sisters)

  14. I went to Notre Dame Grammar School, and High School in San Francisco, across the street
    from Mission Dolores Church, on Dolores St.

    My name at that time was Katherine Malabanan. I so appreciate the education I received.
    I attended a class reunion and enjoyed seeing a lot of my classmates.
    Hi to all who remember and all graduates.
    God Bless!

  15. I went to Notre Dame 1979-1981.
    Steve Herrera was one of my teachers! I remember Sister Sharon and Mr. G too!
    Notre Dame was a wonderful school and I was so sad that it closed my junior year.
    I was good friends with Vilma Yanacone (sp?) in those days and I would love to reconnect with her.
    Hello and blessings to all my old schoolmates!!

    1. How wonderful, Gloria! NDSF graduates are among the most enthusiastic alumnae of all.

      (for the Sisters)

  16. Hello. I am Wanda LeClere (MacDonald now) I attended NDHS in 1952 or 1953. I Was the first Native American (Navajo) to attend they said. They honored me as Mission Queen. I would like a copy of the relevant yearbook as I was the center picture. Cost can and will be covered. I visited the senior center a few years ago for old times sake. Nostalgic.

    1. Dear Wanda,

      Thank you for contacting the Sisters. I will forward your message to our archivist to learn what is possible.


      (for the Sisters)

  17. Hello. My great grandmother (Donna Chrystal Suhr) attended Notre Dame sometime between 1908-1919 and I would love to find out if any records or yearbooks exist. Thank you!

    1. Hello Elizabeth, and thank you for getting in touch. I will forward your message to our archivist, in the hope that she might have some information for you.


      (for the Sisters)

  18. name at the time I went 12 yrs to Notre Dame was madonna dolores Meisel.Graduated class of 1963. Would love to hear from any classmates

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